The first legislative elections in Qatar’s history are scheduled for October 2, according to a decree issued by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Prime Minister and Interior Minister Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani called on Qataris to “actively participate” in the elections to select members of the Shura Council.
The Prime Minister stressed that the elections will be held on the basis of national unity and the principle of equality between Qataris, especially as it is the first election of its kind in the history of the country, according to what was reported by the official Qatar News Agency.
He said the government believes that “Qataris are equal in rights and duties,” adding that the implementation of this principle will be based on “the constitution, national traditions and established customs” and through “legal and constitutional tools and procedures.”
Emir Tamim had approved a law regulating the Shura Council elections on July 29.
The council consists of 45 members, only 30 are elected, while the emir appoints a third of 15 members.
Qatar will be divided into 30 electoral districts, and one candidate will be elected from each of them to represent them.
The new Shura Council has legislative authority and will approve the state’s general policies and budget. It will also exercise oversight over the executive branch, with the exception of the bodies that set defense, security, economic and investment policies.
Kuwait is currently the only Gulf state that grants significant powers to an elected parliament, which can veto proposed legislation and question ministers.
Qatar prohibits the establishment of political parties, like other Gulf Arab states.
The announcement of the Shura Council elections and the distribution of districts sparked controversy in the country and protests by the Al-Murra tribe, after some of its members found that they were not entitled to run and vote.
The right to run and vote in these elections will be limited to “original” Qataris whose families lived in Qatar before 1930. Those who were born in Qatar and whose grandparents obtained Qatari citizenship are entitled to vote only, and other naturalized persons will not be allowed to run or vote.
The electoral law, which is based on a constitution approved in a referendum in 2003, could be reviewed by the new Shura Council.
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